Matthew | Blessed discipleship

What if the Beatitudes describe the progress of discipleship? A back-to-school reflection. (Listen.)

At last, the summer holidays are drawing to an end. Some of us are heading back to school; others, to university. Some of us are setting goals for reading the Bible; some are planning their professional development; many are thinking about what we will be teaching others. And so, one way or another, almost all of us are preparing ourselves for another year of learning and growth. Continue reading “Matthew | Blessed discipleship”

Luke | Returning to the source of life

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives – a longer summer read from Joel. If this reflection evokes your own prayer, image, artwork, perhaps it could be your contribution to the Lent book (2023 described here).

The first followers of Jesus read their Bibles differently. Based on their experiences, they read their Bibles with new eyes and connected with the stories of their faith in new ways. Over the last week, as I was reading the parable of the prodigal son again, I found myself doing the same thing: connecting with the story in a different way, and putting myself into the story in a different way. I read the story in the original language, in Ancient Greek, and that made me slow down. My Greek is nowhere near as good as my English, and as I slowed down, I noticed some things about this story that I haven’t before. Continue reading “Luke | Returning to the source of life”

Wisdom of Solomon | Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, and the language of healing

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives on language and country – a longer summer read.

Acorn. Dandelion. Fern. Heron. Ivy. Kingfisher. Nectar. Willow. These are but some of the words which were cut from a revised edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary a few years ago. A dictionary has only so much space, and the editors decided these words were irrelevant to the modern child. In their place, they added other words: attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee. Continue reading “Wisdom of Solomon | Biblical wisdom, cultural knowledge, and the language of healing”

Isaiah | On a guinea pig restored and the slow work of healing

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s something from the archives – a summer read from Greg. If this reflection evokes your own prayer, image, artwork, perhaps it could be your contribution to the Lent book (2023 described here).

10am on Jan 1, 2020. The year started abruptly at our house: we awoke to the shock that one of our family’s treasured guinea pigs had escaped. Fortunately, years of wrangling chooks together as a family had stood us in good stead and with the able services of Jindi the ‘Sniffer Dog’ extraordinaire, we swung into action as one.  We started working coordinated patterns in the native plant bed, bravely fossicking amongst the bushes and rocks whilst Jindi went to work picking up the scent. Half an hour and a few failed attempts later and we had our ‘treasure’. ‘Blossom’ was found and returned to her friend and wholeness was restored. Continue reading “Isaiah | On a guinea pig restored and the slow work of healing”

Matthew | Like a scandal

God demands Joseph wake to a deeper reality, where love takes priority over obedience to God’s law, and scandal forms the womb of grace. (Listen.)

He thought he could do it quietly. Provide money for an abortion and never see her again. Or book the distant clinic; send her to the asylum; lock her in a nunnery. Whatever. No need to make a big fuss. He’s a righteous man. He knows the law; he knows his rights. He knows he could call for an inquiry and have the betrothal publicly annulled, the woman stoned; he knows the first stone should be thrown by her father. But he doesn’t insist. Instead, he decides to do it quietly ‘for her sake’. Continue reading “Matthew | Like a scandal”

Matthew | Like, are you serious?

Christ’s incarnation is often underwhelming. It is up to us to look at the evidence, and decide if it’s the real deal. (Listen.)

We’re nearing the end of a long and somewhat disheartening year. After two years of lockdowns and all the ramifications, many of us kicked off this year with not much in the tank. Then we had sickness aplenty, and too many funerals, and relentless pivoting and change; many of us are fatigued, burned out, or just plain exhausted. Meanwhile, here at Sanctuary, some households have moved away, and church participation has dwindled. We still have a strong, solid core: but there are weeks when those of us who turn up might look around and wonder, Is this all there is? Continue reading “Matthew | Like, are you serious?”

Matthew | Like an arsonist

John the Baptizer has strong words for religious leaders; but, in the kingdom of heaven, even the most vulnerable person need not be afraid. (Listen.)

Sin. For many of us it’s a dirty word. Because many of us are recovering Christians. We are recovering from churches which preached judgement and condemnation, triggering fear and shame. We are recovering from feeling manipulated; we are recovering from the threat of hell; we are recovering from bad theology. We are recovering from mincing moralism which taught us to be afraid of our own desires. We are recovering from abusive shepherds and church leaders who stole our innocence away. We are recovering from all the ways the word ‘sin’ has been wielded like a weapon, to make us compliant and afraid. And yet, we are here. Continue reading “Matthew | Like an arsonist”

Matthew | Like a thief

Jesus may come looking poor, scruffy, and dangerous – and he’ll probably take something precious away. (Listen.)

When a thief broke into our house one night, I was sound asleep. My husband was in Melbourne, but a friend and her daughters had come to stay. And so I was woken at 3am by my friend whispering, ‘Ali! Ali, wake up! There’s someone in the house …’ Heart pounding, I crawled out of bed, and we crept out together to see. And that’s when we found a thief in the dining room, pocketing my grandmother’s jewellery. Continue reading “Matthew | Like a thief”

Luke | Promises, paradise, and the vastness of love

Jesus rescues and redeems all people, and draws them into the presence of love. (Listen.)

Last week, the Baptist Union of NSW/ACT voted to effectively disaffiliate LGBTIQA+ affirming churches and disaccredit such pastors. It will also disaffiliate churches and disaccredit pastors who are committed to traditional Baptist values of freedom of conscience and congregational governance, and who on these grounds refuse to affirm a statement of marriage as the basis for affiliation. Continue reading “Luke | Promises, paradise, and the vastness of love”

Isaiah | The city of joy

Good health, good work, and good relationships come together to form a city of joy, and a people of delight. (Listen.)

A city of joy, its people a delight: this is what God promises through the prophet Isaiah. Sounds wonderful! So, what are the elements of this joyful city? First, says Isaiah, health and wellbeing. No child will die young; no senior die prematurely (Isa. 65:20). And we can imagine it. There are no coal-fired power stations; no rampaging wildfires; no unprecedented floods. There are no smouldering rainforests; no record-breaking heatwaves. No children or elders are struggling for breath through air thick with particulate matter; no one is sick from herbicides or forever chemicals because these are strictly banned; nobody is collapsing from extreme heat. Continue reading “Isaiah | The city of joy”

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